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Look up Autopoiesis
, the free dictionary.
literally means "auto (self)-creation" (from the Greek
: auto - αυτό
for self- and poiesis - ποίησις
for creation or production) and expresses a fundamental dialect between structure
. The term was originally introduced by Chilean
biologists Humberto Maturana
and Francisco Varela
"An autopoietic machine is a machine organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components which: (i) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produced them; and (ii) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in space in which they (the components) exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network." (Maturana, Varela, 1980, p. 78)
The term autopoiesis
was originally conceived as an attempt to characterize the nature of living systems. A canonical example of an autopoietic system is the biological cell
. The eukaryotic
cell, for example, is made of various biochemical components such as nucleic acids
, and is organized into bounded structures such as the cell nucleus
, various organelles
, a cell membrane
. These structures, based on an external flow of molecules and energy, produce
the components which, in turn, continue to maintain the organized bounded structure that gives rise to these components. An autopoietic system is to be contrasted with an allopoietic
system, such as a car factory, which uses raw materials (components) to generate a car (an organized structure) which is something other
than itself (a factory).
More generally, the term autopoiesis
refers to the dynamics of a non-equilibrium
system; that is, organized states (sometimes also called dissipative structures
) that remain stable for long periods of time despite matter and energy continually flowing through them. Actually, this flow is what maintains the organization of the open system.
From a very general point of view, the notion of autopoiesis is often associated with that of self-organization
An application of the concept to sociology
can be found in Luhmann
's Systems Theory
It has been suggested that some institutions emerge from arcane conversations to become autonomous, self-creating from their internal interactions, self-organising and self-defining of their own boundaries and thus autopoietic, acquiring a 'life of their own' and having as their main "purpose" their own self-perpetuation (Robb 1991).
Autopoiesis has been considered widely by Integral Theorist Ken Wilber
Autopoietic principles are now being used in industrial manufacturing
in its "Airgap
" method of computer microchip
Systems theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Capra, Fritjof (1997). The Web of Life. Random House. ISBN 0-385-47676-0 -general introduction to the ideas behind autopoiesis
- Dyke, Charles (1988). The Evolutionary Dynamics of Complex Systems: A Study in Biosocial Complexity. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Maturana, Humberto & Varela, Francisco ([1st edition 1973] 1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition: the Realization of the Living. Robert S. Cohen and Marx W. Wartofsky (Eds.), Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 42. Dordecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co. ISBN 90-277-1015-5 (hardback), ISBN 90-277-1016-3 (paper) -the main published reference on autopoiesis
- Mingers, John (1994). Self-Producing Systems. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. ISBN 0-306-44797-5 -a book on the autopoiesis concept in many different areas
- Luisi, Pier L. (2003). Autopoiesis: a review and a reappraisal. Naturwissenschaften 90 49-59. -biologist view of autopoiesis
- Varela, Francisco J.; Maturana, Humberto R.; & Uribe, R. (1974). Autopoiesis: the organization of living systems, its characterization and a model. Biosystems 5 187-196. -one of the original papers on the concept of autopoiesis
- Luhmann, Niklas (1990). Essays on Self-Reference. Columbia University Press. -Luhmann's adaptation of autopoiesis to social systems
- Winograd, Terry and Fernando Flores (1990). Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Ablex Pub. Corp. -cognitive systems perspective on autopoiesis
- Tabbi, Joseph (2002). Cognitive Fictions. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-3557-9 - draws on systems theory and cognitive science to introduce autopoiesis to literary studies
- Livingston, Ira (2006). Between Science and Literature: An Introduction to Autopoetics. University of Illinois Press. -an adaptation of autpoiesis to language.
- Robb, Fenton F. (1991) Accounting - A Virtual Autopoietic System? Systems Practice 4, (3) (215-235).:eek:
Types of systems
Evidently, there are many types of systems that can be analyzed both quantitatively
. For example, with an analysis of urban systems dynamics, Steiss (1967: 8-18) defines five intersecting systems, including the physical subsystem and behavioral system. For sociological models influenced by systems theory, where Bailey (1994) defines systems in terms of conceptual
systems (either isolated
, or open
), Buckley (1967) defines social systems in sociology in terms of mechanical
, and process
models. Banathy (1997) cautions that with any inquiry into a system that understanding the type of system is crucial and defines Natural and Designed systems. In offering these more global definitions, the author maintains that it is important not to confuse one for the other. The theorist explains that natural systems include sub-atomic systems, living systems
, the solar system
, the galactic
system and the Universe. Designed systems are our creations, our physical structures, hybrid systems which include natural and designed systems, and our conceptual knowledge. The human element of organization and activities are emphazized with their relevant abstract systems and representations. A key consideration in making distinctions among various types of systems is to determine how much freedom the system has to select purpose, goals, methods, tools, etc. and how widely is the freedom to select distributed (or concentrated) in the system.
Klin (1969: 69-72) maintains that no "classification is complete and perfect for all purposes," and defines systems in terms of abstract
, and conceptual physical systems
and unbounded systems
, pulse to hybrid systems
, et cetera. The interaction between systems and their environments are categorized in terms of absolutely closed systems
, relatively closed, and open systems
. The case of an absolutely closed system is a rare, special case. Important distinctions have also been made between hard and soft systems (Checkland 1999; Flood 1997). Hard systems
are associated with areas such as systems engineering
, operations research and quantitative systems analysis. Soft systems are commonly associated with concepts developed by Checkland
through Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) involving methods such as action research
and emphasizing participatory designs. Where hard systems might be identified as more "scientific," the distinction between them is actually often hard to define.
See also: Soft systems, Hard systems, hybrid system, unbounded system
Perhaps a discussion on systems is not timely,I am not well versed in it myself.It is a relatively new development to the investigation of our reality/science and one which should,at least be introduced.Anyone having a grounding in this is invited to take the lead here or at least contribute too it's further understanding.